If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

About Me

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

09 June, 2016

Horseshoe Vetch: the butterflies friend

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If you are particularly keen to see an Adonis blue butterfly then I suggest you start by going in search of horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), the butterfly's food plant. The Adonis is not the only species that has a passion for this flower, the chalkhill blue is another, but there is undoubtedly a very close connection between the two and you will only find the Adonis where there is a very good colony of horseshoe vetch.
Being a vetch it is, of course, a member of the pea family and as such has the classic pea shaped flower. However, in horseshoe vetch the pea flowers are arranged, unsurprisingly perhaps, in a distinctive horseshoe shape around the head of the stalk; there does not seem to be a specific number of flowers per 'horseshoe'.
Flowering from May to July horseshoe vetch can only be found on short, calcareous, turf on cliffs and downs and so is extremely common near the Dorset coast, hence the abundance of Adonis blue butterflies here too.
Horseshoe Vetch: the butterflies friend